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"What fun!" I thought, to finally own an ant farm. How interesting it would be, to while away the hours, watching the ants going about their business...
And at first, kind reader, it WAS fun! Watching them multiply, expanding their home. I spent many hours watching every detail of their lives, doing what they had to do to survive. In fact, it's all I did. They depended on me, you see? I think I started to love them. And of course, I wanted them to love me back. Such was my fun, my infinite love, that I decided to extend the ant farm.
Now, perhaps I went a little too far, especially in a residential area. But at last count, my colony consisted of 6.5 billion ants, living in two tons of soil, resting between twenty square meters of toughened glass, with 10,728 high resolution digital cameras scattered throughout the nest. This time, I was able to see in detail
As my hobby grew into obsession, I decided to take a closer look at my beloved ants. I began to take an interest in individual ants. Their habits, their behavior, their lifestyles. And I have to tell you, kind reader; it was somewhat of a shock. Ants are…Animals! They do the most disgusting things. Their personal hygiene is less then sanitary. And when you look really close, I mean close, they are so ugly. Stomach churningly, bowel looseningly, ugly. They fornicate in groups, they murder each other, have no manners, and the idea of hiding their genitalia simply hasn't occurred to any of them.
I started talking with them, begging with them, pleading with them, to just change their ways, and even wrote tiny messages that I left at the entrance of their nest asking them to repent. But nothing happened, nothing changed. I sat at the edge of the glass tank, in a spotlight, waving my arms, expecting that they might notice me. Recognize me as the one that brought them lettuce every morning. But still nothing. Not even a "Thanks for the lettuce man!"
It would have been nice to have a little recognition. I wasn't asking to be worshiped as such… Although I DO give them everything….But a little acknowledgement would be nice.
But they could not see me. They could not hear me. They did not understand my words. But obviously, this is entirely their fault. I don't know why, but this constant ignoring of my wonderfulness and my generosity made me angry. It just didn't seem right that I was the whole reason for their existence, and their continuing existence, but I didn't get any of the credit. They had to see my hand bringing lettuce down from the sky every morning… They had to sense my presence. Surely!
So, I got some tweezers and a microscope, and went through the nest, looking for examples of bad behavior. And when I found one, I would make bad things happen to the ant. A lost leg or two, for instance. I thought the others might learn from example. But they didn't. And cutting of limbs is fiddly work. I started punishing them the old-fashioned way. With a magnifying glass and sunlight. Their agony was too brief, however, and the weather outside to unreliable. And there was still so much punishing that needed to be done! There were 6.5 billion of them. Matches and cigarettes just aren't up for the job. So I built an oven. With transparent sides. So I can watch them burning.
I should point out that it gave me no pleasure, to watch their little leg going, their mandibles opening and closing rapidly, watching their body armor slowly vaporize. But what can I do? They're sinful animals. I NEED to punish them, for being what they are…I'm sure you can see the undeniable logic and justice of my actions. I gave them life. I gave them EVERYTHING! I can do what I like. Can't I? Somebody has to do the punishing. Don't they? I found that if I place them in an oven, to exactly 1108 degrees, I can keep them alive and writhing in agony almost indefinitely. It will certainly SEEM like forever to them.
If only they would listen to me. If only they tried to mend their ways, ignore their inbuilt instincts, put on a few clothes, stop copulating without any legal certification at all… If only they would do it MY WAY! If only they'd be more like ME! Or at least try to mimic me, my splendid perfection, I would show them peace.
And, if they chose to worship me, to make me their God? Well, I did give them life, I do give them everything. It seems unarguable that I should be worshiped every now and then. Don't you agree?
But then, one day, I caught sight of myself in the mirror, placing another set of trays into the oven. And in that moment, I asked myself several questions. And now I ask you. If you saw me putting a tray of live ants into the oven, if you ACTUALLY saw me doing that, what would you think of me? Am I right to BURN them? Am I wrong to expect their gratitude? Am I WORTHY of their worship? Is my behavior not totally rational, completely justified? Am I not sane?